SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Cam Maclise scored once and added an assist to pace the offence as the Brooks Bandits were crowned national champions for the first time, beating the Summerside Western Capitals 3-1 in the final of the 2013 RBC Cup on Sunday night.
The Bandits are the eighth team from the Alberta Junior Hockey League to win Canada’s National Junior A Championship, and the first to do it since the Camrose Kodiaks won their lone national title in 2001.
For the second consecutive night, the attendance set a single-game tournament record; 4,211 watched Sunday’s final, topping the 3,386 that saw Summerside beat Surrey in overtime in Saturday’s semifinal.
Anthony Petruzzelli and Dakota Mason also scored for Brooks, which became the second team in as many years to win the RBC Cup after finishing the season in the No. 1 spot on the CJHL Top 20 rankings; Penticton did it last season.
Chris Caissy had the lone goal for Summerside, which lost the national final on home ice for the second time in three tries; it fell to Thunder Bay in the 1989 championship game before beating South Surrey in 1997 for its only national crown.
Brooks jumped on the Western Capitals right out of the gate, taking a 2-0 lead before the first period reached its midway point.
First it was Petruzzelli, tapping a centering feed from Maclise into an open net, starting the scoring at 7:17 before Mason found the five-hole on Summerside goaltender Kevin Bailie just 80 seconds later to double the lead.
The Western Capitals got one back at 10:20 when Caissy squeezed one through Brooks netminder Michael Fredrick, but that would be it for offence from the host team.
The Bandits allowed Summerside just 18 shots on goal, 10 in the final 40 minutes and none in the first 12 minutes of the third period, when Brooks held on to a tenuous one-goal lead.
Maclise capped the scoring and clinched the win with just 29.6 seconds left, scoring into an empty net.
It was fitting it was Maclise who scored the final goal; the Bandits’ captain led the way from start to finish for Brooks, becoming the first player to win national player of the year honours and the national championship in the same season since Greg Johnson in 1989.
Summerside is the second straight Maritime Hockey League to lose in the championship game, after Penticton beat Woodstock last year. The Western Capitals were the 17th host team to reach the final since the start of the tournament format in 1985; the home side is now 7-10 in championship games.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)